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Advance Readers Edition

As the Catholics of the world sit around waiting for the College of Cardinals to elect a new pope, this book serves as a timely reminder of how Vatican machinations can affect history.

This is a fascinating story—not only of the well-known Nazi appeasement that marked Pius XII’s papacy—but of his predecessor Pius XI’s intention to stand against Hitler. But for his untimely death, that pope might well have helped save the lives of millions. Kirkus’s outstanding review does a good job of capturing the plot twists and  the political intrigue of the story.

Notwithstanding the spate of current works on the tragic shortcomings of Pius XII during World War II, journalist and producer Eisner refocuses the spotlight in this relevant study on his predecessor, who did speak out against anti-Semitism and the threat of Nazism—though he was silenced by an untimely death in 1939. Pius XI, an activist pope…

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A timely look at the inner rivalries and machinations at the Vatican; in this case the protagonist is Pope Pius XI, the little known pontiff who served before World Word II. He opposed Hitler, Mussolini and their campaign against the Jews

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World Desk

Pope Benedict XVI’s abrupt decision to resign reminds us of the departure of another pope exactly seventy-four years ago this week, a moment at which the Roman Catholic Church faced a different crisis.

Pope Pius XI had died on February 10, 1939 and the world was on the brink of a second war. As the Nazis massed forces against Europe, in Rome Pius XI was engaged in a last-minute effort to awaken world leaders against Hitler, Mussolini and the Nazi campaign against the Jews. But the pope faced dissidents within the Vatican.

I’ve just finished a book about Pius XI and his challenge to Hitler — The Pope’s Last Crusade — which comes out in March.

Just as now, the Catholic Church was divided among factions that would either modernize and deal squarely and openly with injustice, or retreat, circle in closely and insulate their institution from the outside world…

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